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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

What Recession Really Means to Ordinary Nigerians



I bring to the attention of the good people of Nigeria what the situation is like back home these days because any Nigerian who fails to speak up is an accomplice or accessory after the fact. The country is rapidly going grey in all fronts. The land is in peril and devoid of any real or imagined blueprint for recovery. It is better that you go to hell twice than to travel to Nigeria now. The man at the helm of affairs is called President Muhammadu Buhari who strikes me as a fading patriarch coming to terms with the realities and intricacies of governance. Yes! This is somebody who considered absconding immediately after he took over the realms of governance. That tells you his intellectual depth and preparedness for the arduous task. He is excused because he lacks the capacity to provide good governance.

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party ran a well-oiled campaign. Buhari and the All Progressives Congress were busy preparing for war and reaching out to jobless youths and other miscreants, arming them for a showdown. In a flash of the pan, Jonathan conceded defeat before the battle-ready youths could be unleashed and Buhari found power and the Presidency on his laps clearly overwhelmed and buffeted.

Two reasons lend credence to this. First, it took him more than six months to assemble the much vaunted technocrats that turned out to be obsolete, recycled and expired politicians. Secondly, since he assumed the mantle of leadership, no blueprint or Marshal Plan has been laid out to steer the country out of the woods. The naira continues to plummet against other currencies.

Under Buhari, Nigeria continues to wallop from one misstep to a near fall. Boko Haram, we were told had been degraded, is still on the prowl.

The Niger Delta region, awash with rivulets of blood, is still on the mend with the boys becoming more potent and destructive. Nigeria is in recession, a deep one, and the reason is traceable to the dwindling oil revenues (no thanks to turmoil in the creeks) that used to accrue to Nigeria in the past and now the President, governors and ministers and LG chairmen have no money to fritter away like before. The common man is at the butt of this mismanagement and faced with recession, a result of several years of squandering and mismanagement of various regimes. Recession means to the common man the withdrawal of kids from schools, tradesmen idling away, women and men carrying long hairs, commuters trekking more distance avoiding taxis, self-medication, tenants owing landlords, boom in fried akara and second hand clothes and major events either cancelled or scaled down.

Fulani herdsmen are still marauding the villages (except in Ondo State) on a mission to depopulate the people. Power situation remains the same if not worse and funds said to have been recovered from politicians are not yet accounted for. Recruitment into the civil service remains a clandestine exercise reserved for the children of the rich and their cronies.

The country has turned into comic and hilarious cartoons. Here are few examples. In the Ijeshatedo area of Lagos, a housewife who stole head of stockfish lay helpless after being cornered like a rat at the dead of the night by full glare of vehicle headlamp. Other women had circled her, striped her naked intent on lynching until better heads prevailed. A similar scenario played out in Ilasamaja where a woman was strolling home after buying fried yam and akara for dinner for her household only to have it snatched by two boys on Okada. In Somolu, a housewife snatched a pot of rice from the hot stove still smouldering with hot flame because she had no food for her kids. A vigilance group in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State arrested one Kaduna Enatime, a father of two, for alleged theft of a pot of soup, 12 wraps of fufu and a half basin of garri. He was nabbed at the dead of the night at two O’clock in the morning and was swiftly taken to the paramount ruler where he was publicly humiliated.

In the midst of pervading anomie and gloom, cooler and wiser heads are supposed to prevail but we are not anywhere nigh where the President can run the country as a bridge builder and not as a President of the North. The cabinet members should go back to his mother’s lap for new lessons in governance. They are eloquently intelligent but do not cut it.

The regime, whose head believes that women belong to the kitchen, made a somersault and headed to Germany where the head of state is a woman; a regime that used more than N300m to clear weeds in an IDP camp that shelter hunger-stricken people. A man who cannot generate money as a private person, a man who borrowed money to buy nomination form cannot change overnight and make money for the government.

He may have run three times for the job but he is clearly ill-equipped and unprepared to rule this country. There are no ideas and no think tanks. Nothing really has changed so much if not for the quantum leap into poverty and hardship. He is clearly a pacesetter in excuses, complaints and in no hurry to fix anything due to shallowness of thought. Jonathan assembled an economic team and you could see brilliant minds at work. The ancient Romans believed that it was better to know nothing at all about a subject than knowing half of it. The failure of Buhari’s regime to deliver democracy dividends has endangered mutual trust and confidence between the ruler and the ruled and may enthrone dissent in various forms. When this happens as it will, democratic values and legitimacy suffer and the common man will be at the butt of the joke.

Here are my personal observations, not anybody else’s opinion. Housewives will no longer snatch smouldering pots of soup or steal stockfish but will turn over their kids to their neighbours with the pretext of fetching water only to abscond forever due to hunger and inability to feed their children. This interlude playing out back home makes me believe that Nigeria as a nation is on evacuation alert and this should worry us to the marrow.

The fact that you claim to dramatise the fight against corruption is no confirmation that you fight it. His disdain for corruption may be curated but his immediate lieutenants are tarred with brush of corruption. This President has mediocrity as writ large.

The old dictator is just waking up after sleeping for six months before appointing ministers and snoring for 20 months before thinking about whether to have an economic plan or not. What would Buhari do with a $29. 9bn loan except to borrow ideas from the “demons that have taken over Aso Rock” and fritter it away. His hubris sticks out like festering open sore.

***Written by Mike Onwukwe

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